7:30 p.m. – Just a reminder that racing will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday with Sportsman Eliminations. Another beautiful day is on tap with a projected high of 75 degrees. Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. and Nitro qualifying will be at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Good night from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be sure to check here Saturday and Sunday for continual updates from the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.
7:10 p.m. – Comments from Tony Schumacher, the provisional pole-sitter in Top Fuel following two rounds of qualifying:
(Schumacher turned in the fastest pass in NHRA history at 325.14 miles per hour.) “It’d be real good if it came with 20 points – or 40, that’d be even better. The car is fast and we know it’s fast and we know we have a great racecar. It’s funny, we’ve won six championships in a row and it doesn’t look like we’re going to win (this) one. Everyone is, ‘Oh, my God, what are you going to do?’ Well, I’m going to wake up and race. I love racing and I don’t get down on it. We’ve won five races this year. (Larry) Dixon has won 12 and that’s an amazing accomplishment but we’ve won the second most. We’re just going to go out and try to win the last two races and not let Larry get all the money. (Dixon’s team) is having one of those years and you’ve got to respect that. They’re running good and we’ve had those years where nothing can go wrong. I wish it wasn’t happening and I’d love to be out there and giving a better battle than maybe we have but, in reality, they have that good of a team ... they’re going to go out and win a lot of races.”
7 p.m. – Comments from Ashley Force Hood, the provisional pole-sitter in Funny Car following two rounds of qualifying:
“Sometimes you just have that magic and it runs maybe even a little better than you thought it would. I’m excited and our team’s excited. We’re really pumped because we got down both runs today and that’s a great way to start a weekend here in Vegas. It’s been fun so far. We’re approaching each round just trying to run the best possible run we can. We’re not thinking about records, we’re not thinking about other people in the field … we’re just going to take each run as it goes. We had a good run today and we’d really love to get two more good ones tomorrow because then you feel confident for Sunday and that’s going to be similar conditions.”
6:45 p.m. – Comments from Hector Arana, the provisional pole-sitter in Pro Stock Motorcycle following two rounds of qualifying:
“Earlier, we struggled with the performance of the bike; there was something going on and we’ve found it – it’s back. We made that awesome run and we thought that we could probably improve a little bit but I downloaded the run and it’s lost. It’s lost and I can’t find it in the computer. That’s how it goes sometime. Hopefully we can download this one so tomorrow we can repeat what we did earlier. I’m still happy. We were totally blind and we did some things to guess at it and we went the wrong way.
“I’ve not considered knocking anyone out, only the ones that I’m racing against on Sunday. I’ve worked hard and I would like to finish the season with a win and that’s my goal, to see if I could grab two.”
6:18 p.m. – Tony Schumacher saved the best for last, turning in a pass of 3.812 seconds at a track-record speed of 325.14 mph and reclaiming the provisional pole in Top Fuel. Larry Dixon, who held the provisional pole briefly after his 3.825-second pass, is No. 2 and Steve Torrence is No. 3 after two rounds of qualifying.
5:34 p.m. – Ashley Force Hood knocked her father, John Force, off the provisional pole with a blistering run of 4.032 seconds at 309.70 mph in the second round of Funny Car qualifying. John Force is in the No. 2 spot after a second-round run of 4.059 at 311.70. Cruz Pedregon is third based on his first-round run (4.087 at 304.67).
4:45 p.m. – Allen Johnson grabbed the provisional pole with a pass of 6.660 seconds at 207.46 mph in the second round of Pro Stock qualifying. Mike Edwards is second and Roger Brogdon is third after two rounds.
4:01 p.m. – Hector Arana held onto the top qualifying spot after two rounds in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Eddie Krawiec remained No. 2 and Karen Stoffer made the quickest pass of the session (7.001 seconds at 190.46) and moved up one spot to third.
3:55 p.m. – John Force has won 14 Funny Car world championships and knows what it will take to win a 15th. Force, who has not won a season championship since 2006, said playing it safe is not the way to overcome his 64-point deficit to front-runner Matt Hagan.
“Our approach is very simple,” Force said. “I need to win these next two races. I need to eat up points in every round of qualifying and I’m hoping to get a shot at the national record. But if (Hagan) goes a couple rounds here and a couple rounds at Pomona, it’s over.
“We’re excited because we can’t go in and wait for him to fail; we have to go in and win every point that’s on the table or else it’s just his to grab. I’ve played this game for 33 years and you can’t go in this just hoping he’s going to get beat first round or he’s going to have a clutch pedal fall off like we did. It’s too good a team, too good a talent, too good a driver to make mistakes so we’re just going to outrun him. We’re going to go after him and hit him out of the box. We’ve got a big task but we’ve done our homework in the last two weeks and we’re ready.”
It is a lean Castrol GTX Ford Mustang that Force has brought to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend’s NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.
“We’ve put our car on a diet – we’ve pulled everything but safety off of it and we’ve got it down 30 pounds and about 10 pounds with me,” he said.
3:30 p.m. – Six-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher knows he has his work cut out for him if he is to win a seventh consecutive world championship.
Schumacher is third in points, 154 points behind Larry Dixon, with two races remaining, and isn’t hopeful that he’ll be able to pass second-place Cory McClenathan and Dixon in the final two races.
“I hope I have several more (championships) in me but we’re a long way back,” said Schumacher, who has five victories this season. “Unfortunately, we’re not going to pull this one off. It would take every miracle – and then some – and it’s just impossible.
“We’re still going to show up try to win the race (but) it doesn’t matter; the championship is too far away from me and that’s a fact. But the sixth win (of the season) is not. The sixth win comes from winning the next four rounds and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Although the local oddsmakers have installed Dixon as the favorite to win this weekend’s NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, it wouldn’t be smart to bet against Schumacher. The driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster has won this event three times and has five career victories (as does Dixon) at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
3:08 p.m. – Tony Schumacher wrapped up the first round of pro qualifying by posting the quickest time in Top Fuel with a pass of 3.871 seconds at 321.73 mph. Cory McClenathan was second at 3.892 (316.01) and Clay Millican was third at 3.932 (301.20). Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon did not make a full pass and was ninth.
1:52 p.m. – Cruz Pedregon snagged the provisional pole with a pass of 4.087 seconds at 304.67 mph in the first round of Funny Car qualifying. Bob Tasca III was second quickest at 4.092 (309.20) and Ashley Force Hood was third at 4.105 (306.40). Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan was No. 8 while John Force, who trails Hagan by 64 points going into the weekend, did not make a full pass and was 13th.
1:20 p.m. – Mike Edwards, who trails points leader Greg Anderson by 36 points going into the weekend, grabbed the provisional pole after the first round of Pro Stock qualifying with a pass of 6.667 at 206.42 mph. Rodger Brogdon was second quickest at 6.670 (206.01) and Allen Johnson was third at 6.671 (207.08).
Nitro qualifying is underway.
12:43 p.m. – Hector Arana holds the provisional pole after the first round of qualifying in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Arana’s pass at 6.929 seconds (192.30 mph) put him atop the chart, ahead of No. 2 qualifier Eddie Krawiec (6.933 at 194.13) and No. 3 Andrew Hines (7.002 at 192.19).
11:55 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where it’s shaping up as a gorgeous day for the first two rounds of professional qualifying for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.
It’s sunny and 64 degrees with a slight breeze (3 mph) as the Pro Mod racers are beginning their first qualifying session.
Professional qualifying will begin shortly with Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock, followed immediately by the first round of Nitro qualifying. The second round of pro qualifying is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.
Check back here often, as we’ll be updating this blog throughout the weekend with news, results and driver interview